Bill Cram, who helped change the face of Saskatchewan by supervising distribution of millions of shelterbelt trees, was born November 27, 1913, at Morden, Manitoba. A good student, on graduation from high school in 1932 he obtained the Governor-GeneralÝs medal. He graduated from the University of Manitoba with a BSA in 1939, took his masterÝs degree in 1948, and obtained his doctorate at the University of Minnesota in 1951.
From 1939-41 he conducted vegetable variety trials for Agriculture Canada while doing post-graduate work. He then was appointed tree planting inspector for Southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, stationed at Indian Head.
From 1942-45 he served as a bomber-navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force and in the final year of the Second World War was a prisoner of war.
In 1945 he was appointed horticulturist at the Indian Head Experimental Farm. Two years later he moved to the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration tree nursery at Indian Head to become a plant breeder. He focused on resolving propagation problems with spruce and conducting improvement programs for caragana and Colorado spruce.
His enthusiastic promotion of tree plantings to protect the fields, gardens, orchards and homes of Prairie farmers is regarded as his greatest contribution. His extensive work with the sturdy caragana earned him the nickname ýCaragana Bill.ţ
He became superintendent of the Indian Head Forest Nursery Station in 1958, a post he held until retirement in 1977. When appointed superintendent, he insisted that he be allowed to continue at least part of his research and development work. He has published 42 scientific research papers on the propagation and breeding of tree species.
As superintendent, Bill encouraged mechanization of tree nursery operations, greatly improving the efficiency and productivity of the staff. Mechanical planting and harvesting of trees made it possible to meet the Prairie-wide demand despite the closing of the Sutherland nursery station. In 1977 he greatly enlarged the Indian Head stationÝs refrigerated storage. This enabled overwintering of seedlings so there could be earlier spring delivery to farmers in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba.
Active in the community, Bill served on the school unit board, as town councillor and as president of the Legion branch. He provides useful input on committees of the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists, the Western Canadian Society for Horticulture, the American Society for Horticultural Science, the Canadian Tree Improvement Association and is an honorary life member of the Saskatchewan Nursery Trade Association.